Gospel Truth of Justification - A Review (1): Timely

With the recent publication of Gospel Truth of Justification: Proclaimed, Defended, Developed by David J. Engelsma, the Reformed Free Publishing Association has sent a bold witness of the truth of justification by faith alone into the world. This witness comes particularly to the Reformed church world, both to true and apostatizing churches. God will always have witness to his truth, even to the very end of the world. As apostasy in the church world increases, the witness of the true church and God's servants must become bolder. This book serves the witness of the church regarding the heart of the gospel: justification by faith alone.

That we are justified by faith alone is of great comfort to the believer. Knowing this Satan and his minions, throughout the history of the church, have attempted to make this doctrine odious to God's people. The enemies of the church know very well that if they corrupt the heart of the gospel—the doctrine of justification by faith alone—by adding the works of the law, they have succeeded in corrupting all of Christian doctrine. Hence the importance of maintaining this truth.

After reading this book, there are six adjectives that I jotted down that express why I think this book is a must read for all those who love the Reformed faith. First, the contents of this book are timely. The year 2017 marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. It certainly is appropriate that a book be published explaining the heart of the divide between the Roman Catholic Church and the true churches of the Reformation.

Making the contents of the book even more timely is the fact that many reputedly conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches, claiming for themselves to be the disciples of John Calvin and Martin Luther, have travelled far down the road back to Rome by embracing the Romish corruption of the doctrine of justification, that is, justification by faith and works. This contemporary corruption of justification is known as the federal vision. Anyone who has read Engelsma’s writings knows that he is probably this heresies fiercest opponent. He continues and develops his bold unmasking of this heresy in Gospel Truth of Justification.

Perhaps the Protestant Reformed readers of this blog would be tempted to dismiss the timeliness and worthiness of such a lengthy book (528 pages) on the subject of justification. While we may acknowledge threats to the doctrine of justification by faith alone "out there" and lament what we see happening in other denominations, certainly we are in no danger of losing the truth of justification by faith alone within the PRC, or so we may naively think. To adopt this complacent attitude would be to ignore recent history within the PRC. The doctrines of justification and sanctification (and their relationship), election, conditions, and the place of good works in the lives of God’s people were all discussed at the 2017 Synod of the PRC. And weighty decisions were taken. The Protestant Reformed believer has a solemn duty to understand the doctrine of justification by faith alone thoroughly. In the providence of God, this book, addressing all of the aforementioned subjects, has come to publication in the year 2017. Timely!

If you have not already picked up this book and worked your way through it, do so now. Your efforts will be greatly rewarded. Next time, I hope to address the comforting aspects of this publication.

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This post was written by Aaron Cleveland, a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you have a question or comment for Aaron, please do so in the comment section.

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